Customer Reviews for

The Language of Trees

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
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(10)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Loved This Book

This book was fabulous. One of the best novels my book club has read in a long time! Suffice it to say that I found this book hard to put down. The author's unabashed style and intoxicating prose captivated me until the final page. I felt immersed in the lives of char...
This book was fabulous. One of the best novels my book club has read in a long time! Suffice it to say that I found this book hard to put down. The author's unabashed style and intoxicating prose captivated me until the final page. I felt immersed in the lives of characters whose stories felt real and compelling, whose interconnected trials and triumphs created a complex web of love, lies and legacies. Part love story, part mystery, this is a sensually vivid debut by an author whose stories I will follow time and again.

posted by HarvardReader50 on March 24, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Evoking the Seneca Indian past of Lake Canandaigua, New York

In May 1988 a young boy named Mark drowned very close to the shoreline of Squaw Island in the middle of Lake Canandaigua, New York. Yet he could swim like a fish. His two somewhat older sisters survived. What happened? You will have to read the rest of THE LANGUAGE OF...
In May 1988 a young boy named Mark drowned very close to the shoreline of Squaw Island in the middle of Lake Canandaigua, New York. Yet he could swim like a fish. His two somewhat older sisters survived. What happened? You will have to read the rest of THE LANGUAGE OF TREES to find out. *****

And you can find the answer on your own, using clues subtly but strategically scattered through the narrative when it takes up again 12 years later in May 2000. *****

You will also come to know and love the land, sea and sky around this nearly 16 mile long lake. First novelist Ilie Ruby, already a polished poet and professional painter, has a gift for making you feel lake spray on your face and empathize with injured trees and birds. You may never visit Canandaigua, both a lake and a town. But you will think you grew up there. *****

You will also learn a bit, a very little bit, about Seneca Indian and Iroquois history, culture and religion. The author tries, not very successfully in my case, to make readers believe that Seneca religion and faith healing are still hard at work in late 20th Century America. Long disappeared wolves return to protect Seneca graves both ancient and recent. Birds fly to express their sense of freedom. Dimes appear all the time just as they did when long dead Mark loved to count them and play with them. Dirty prints of small bare feet appear in the dust of the cabin of the Seneca Indian family named Shongo. It was their canoe that the three children took without permission in 1988 to row to Squaw Island, sacred to the memory of long dead Seneca women and children who used to hide there during invasions by the French. *****

Men and women meet and separate, love and hate and all wonder what really happened that day in May 1988. Did the older sister really see a giant tall as a willow tree digging on Squaw Island just before she capsized the canoe? *****

The book is well written, its moods memorable. Its characters are, however, forgettable. The story is thin, although competently narrated. There is much low-level mysticism and animism at work throughout the story. But it is all badly welded into the reality of an American lake late in the 20th Century. The book is essentially a series of very good lyric poems and mood music. But the novel form is simply too long to sustain endless bursts of mood and poetry. -OOO-

posted by Ausonius on February 28, 2010

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Loved this book

    Nice storytelling ,great weekend read,

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Haunting Debut Novel

    The small town of Canandaigua has a hold on its citizens. Some have grown up and moved away, but find themselves drawn back to their childhood haunts. Others have lived their entire lives in this small community, centered around a lake and the trees and animals and Indian heritage that is evident everywhere.

    There are also secrets. More than a decade ago, a tragedy changed the lives of several families. Three children, two sisters and a brother, fled the wrath of their alcoholic father and took a canoe out on the lake at night. When a storm whipped up, the canoe capsized and the young brother, Luke, disappeared and drowned. That death had many consequences. It broke the marriage of his parents. One sister< Maya, had to be hospitalized with a mental breakdown, while the other, Melanie, became a drug addict. Now Melanie has defeated her addiction and has a good relationship and a baby she loves. But she has gone missing....

    Echo comes back to town to deal with the illness and old age of Joseph, the town's grocer and holder of many secrets. He took Echo in when she was orphaned and provided her with love and security. Grant has also returned to town to try to reconcile his past. He is fleeing a broken marriage, and trying to determine why his father was so distant from him as a child. When he and Echo see each other, they are drawn to rekindle the past where they were each other's first love.

    Ilie Ruby has created a wonderous place, a land that seems shrouded in fog and secrets that the reader must push their way through to discover the secrets that bind these individuals to this place. This is a debut novel and it's haunting voice will linger in readers' minds long after they close the book. This book is recommended for readers who are interested in discovering the items that make people the way they are.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining regional paranormal mystery

    In 1988, the three preadolescent Ellis siblings (Melanie, Maya and Luke) steal a canoe and row on Canandaigua Lake to Squaw Island while it is storming. However, their trek goes wrong ending with eight years old Maya accusing her older sister for the disappearance of their younger brother.

    After being away for about a year, in 2000, Echo O'Connell comes home to Canandaigua to take care of her ailing dad. Her former childhood lover, Grant Shongo, once a healer with Seneca bloodlines, left Rochester to hide in his family's remote cabin still stunned that his wife Susanna left him. At the cabin, the spirit of Luke pleads with him to uncover the truth as to what happened over a decade ago as the ghost worries about his sister vanishing leaving behind her baby. Grant finds a reason to go on and soon a second one when he and Echo meet.

    This is an entertaining regional paranormal mystery as the strong key cast has failed to move on pass respective tragedies. The story line affirms that forgiving (one's self) is a critical early stage in healing regardless of their personal belief system although the plot uses that of the Seneca people. What happened then and happening now are kept somewhat thin as the fully developed characters with their motivations and values (negative as well as positive) are the focus of the mystical The Language of the Trees.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 4, 2011

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    Posted May 20, 2011

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    Posted August 9, 2011

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